Alleged Afghanistan shooter Sgt. Robert Bales returns to US
FT. LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (KABC) -- A senior U.S. official revealed Friday that Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is the American soldier accused in the massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan, nine of whom were children.
Bales was flown from Kuwait and touched down on American soil shortly after 8 p.m. Friday. He was placed in his own cell at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas, the military's only maximum security prison. Bales has not yet been charged in any crimes.
Neighbors of the 38-year-old Washington state man said they're shocked by his alleged murderous rampage, and describe Bales as a devoted husband and father of two.
"I never saw any signs of marital problems. They always seemed pretty happy, happy family, normal family," said neighbor Cassie Holland.
John Henry Browne, Bales' attorney, also dismissed reports of trouble at home -- but he did mention this latest deployment was not welcome.
"He and the family were told that his tours in the Middle East were over, and then literally overnight that changed," Browne said.
He said Bales is highly decorated and has been nominated for a Bronze Star. He also said that Bales was wounded twice during his four deployments, suffering a brain injury from a vehicle roll over and another wound so serious part of his foot was removed. Browne said the day before the murders Bales witnessed a friend get his leg blown off. Browne has only spoken to his client on the phone but already hinted at a defense strategy revolving around post-traumatic stress disorder.
"We cannot confirm that there is PTSD, but that may be an issue," Browne said.
More than 75,000 soldiers have been diagnosed with PTSD in the last decade. Bales' own base in Washington state has been the subject of controversy after a string of violent attacks: One vet killed a park ranger, another killed his wife and child, and now Bales' alleged shooting spree.
President Hamid Karzai met with victim's families Friday. He is casting doubt on the American account of events and said witnesses believe there may have been more than shooter.
"The Afghan investigation team did not receive the cooperation that they expected from the United States. Therefore these are all questions that we'll be raising and we'll be raising very loudly," Karzai said.
According to Karzai, relations with the U.S. are reaching a breaking point. During a phone call from President Obama Friday, Karzai said he stood firm on his demand that U.S. troops pull out of Afghan villages. A White House spokesman said the two leaders agreed to talk further about Karzai's demand.
u.s. troops, world news, leslie miller
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